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  QUESTION: lead poisoning in dog after gunshot injury, 12 Aug 2005, USA

Dear LEAD Group--My Vet just suggested that I have my elderly dog (Black Lab) 13 years old tested for lead. He had his yearly appointment a week ago and the Doc felt he looked sick. He is a thin dog, always has been and is very mild mannered (nick-named The Zen Dog). So he underwent several blood tests and had x-rays taken. All was normal, except there were 11 bebe's or pellets that could be seen in the x-rays. I acquired Buddy Dog when he was 4 years old from an owner divorcing her husband, who said she could no longer care for the dog. So I now surmise since seeing the x-rays that he was shot...poor boy... 

He has always been scared of thunder and loud noises and has tremendous separation anxiety--no wonder! He gets along with all dogs though, even dogs who get along with no other dogs. We have a 2 year old daughter and they are best pals. I'm giving you this background because I have noticed no change in behavior except he has slowed down this summer while in our horrible heat wave in the mid west of the states--which is always the case with him.

The VET wants to test Bud for lead, then take out the pellets or BEBE's with surgery. I can't imagine him surviving or recovering from this and I can't imagine after all this time that lead poisoning would be affecting him suddenly now. Wouldn't the pellets be encapsulated with scar tissue so that they are not exposing his blood with constantly new lead. The bottom line is that I am trying to gather info about this concern of my VETS. Also, my dog is extremely smart...would his mind be like mush by now if it was lead poisoning? Have you heard of anything like this before?

sincerely and thanks for listening,

ANSWER: 11 Oct 2005

Dear Madam,

From the information you provide me, there are no evident symptoms of lead poisoning in dogs which include GI abnormalities including anorexia ( shown in abnormalities of blood cells) , colic , diarrhoea, constipation and changes in behaviour . However , you might proceed with lead blood test just to be sure that your dog's lead blood level is in an acceptable range.

Studies show that in the soft tissue and bones , the retained pellets are enclosed in fibrous tissue with poor vascularization, hence minimizing lead dissolution. However , the lead intoxication may occur if pellets are in contact with synovial or cerebral fluid. I would recommend you ask for risk factors associated with surgery due to advanced age of your pet. also see Lead Toxicity in Dogs and Cats and Pets and Lead Poisoning - Case Studies

Regards
kashka

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